The Religion of Digital Capitalism

#Digital Capitalism
The Religion of Digital Capitalism
Sun. 20. 6. 11:3013:00

Conversation with Timo Daum (DE) and Robert Feustel (DE)

Information capitalism, data capitalism, platform capitalism, surveillance capitalism, cognitive capitalism – these are some of the colourful terms used to describe contemporary manifestations of capitalism in the digital age. What unites them is that they all relate to an economic system based on datafication, data extraction and data accumulation. As a product, data is becoming something of a religious cult complete with promises of redemption and apocalyptic scenarios. It is even attributed magical powers.

Much has been said about the religious aspect of capitalism. Karl Marx spoke of commodity fetishism; Max Weber emphasised the Protestant roots of capitalism with its cult of labour. Walter Benjamin considered capitalism itself a secular religion.

The Californian ideology and its credo of solutionism – the idea that societal and all other problems can be solved by the widespread use of data, algorithms and engineers – have conquered the world. In this sense, a new spirit of capitalism is being propagated that revolves around the “project”, creativity and the ceaseless production of new information. Is “information” the manna of digital capitalism? And what exactly does the societal, informational religion of digital capitalism look like?

At this event, Timo Daum (author of Das Kapital sind wir. Zur Kritik der digitalen Ökonomie) and Robert Feustel (author of “Am Anfang war die Information”. Digitalisierung als Religion) will trace the quasi religious cult around the digital, examine its historical, philosophical and informational prehistory and attempt to shed some light into the digital darkness.

© Michelle Lischke
Timo Daum

Timo Daum is author and lecturer in the fields of information systems and digital transformation. He studied physics at the universities of Karlsruhe and Hamburg and completed his degree in 1994. He has been working for almost 20 years as an IT developer, online designer and project manager with a focus on the analysis and critique of digital capitalism. For his book Das Kapital sind wirZur Kritik der digitalen Ökonomie [We Are the Capital: A Critique of Digital Economy], he was awarded the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s prize for the best political book in 2018. He is currently investigating the domination of algorithms and data in transportation and the methods of agile management. Daum is a visiting scholar in the research group Digital Mobility and Social Differentiation at the Berlin Social Science Centre. 

© Robert Feustel
Robert Feustel

Robert Feustel hat Politikwissenschaft und Geschichte in Leipzig und Madrid studiert und war als wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Leipzig tätig. 2012 promovierte dort zum Thema „Grenzgänge. Kulturen des Rauschs seit der Renaissance“. 2021 habilitierte es sich im Fach Soziologie an der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. Seine jüngste Publikation „Am Anfang war die Information“. Digitalisierung als Religion erschien 2018 im Verbrecher Verlag.